Obama Criticizes Arrest of Harvard Professor

Professor Gates being arrested in front of his own house continues to resonate. President Obama even gave his opinion, when asked at last night’s White House news conference.

Lynn Sweet of The Chicago Sun-Times asked him about the case and what it said about race relations in America.

Mr. Obama paused, then said, “Well, I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here.”

Then he made his only joke of the evening, as he speculated about what would happen if he were seen trying to force the door of his own home? “I guess this is my house now,” he said, “so it probably wouldn’t happen.” Then, after a beat, he added, “Let’s say my old house in Chicago. Here, I’d get shot.”

The president then became serious, taking up a chronology of the events last week after the police received a report of a possible break-in at the home of Mr. Gates, a leading authority on African-American history.

“The police are doing what they should,” he said. “There’s a call. They go investigate. What happens?

“My understanding is that Professor Gates then shows his I.D. to show that this is his house, and at that point he gets arrested for disorderly conduct.”.

“I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that,” Mr. Obama continued. “But I think it’s fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry; No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and No. 3, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by police disproportionately. That’s just a fact.”

[Click to continue reading Obama Criticizes Arrest of Harvard Professor – NYTimes.com]


Yeah, no kidding. Police should be trained well enough to be able to listen to people complain to them without the police feeling they have to “show their power” by arresting innocent people. No matter what Professor Gates said, arresting him was just a power play by the officer “I’ll show this asshole who dared question my authority, why, I’ll arrest him on trumped-up charges!”

Professor Gates was interviewed by Dayo Olopade of The Root, and disputes the allegation that he even was yelling at the officer

The police report says I was engaged in loud and tumultuous behavior. That’s a joke. Because I have a severe bronchial infection which I contracted in China and for which I was treated and have a doctor’s report from the Peninsula hotel in Beijing. So I couldn’t have yelled. I can’t yell even today, I’m not fully cured.

It escalated as follows: I kept saying to him, ‘What is your name, and what is your badge number?’ and he refused to respond. I asked him three times, and he refused to respond. And then I said, ‘You’re not responding because I’m a black man, and you’re a white officer.’ That’s what I said. He didn’t say anything. He turned his back to me and turned back to the porch. And I followed him. I kept saying, “I want your name, and I want your badge number.”

It looked like an ocean of police had gathered on my front porch. There were probably half a dozen police officers at this point. The mistake I made was I stepped onto the front porch and asked one of his colleagues for his name and badge number. And when I did, the same officer said, ‘Thank you for accommodating our request. You are under arrest.’ And he handcuffed me right there. It was outrageous. My hands were behind my back I said, ‘I’m handicapped. I walk with a cane. I can’t walk to the squad car like this.’ There was a huddle among the officers; there was a black man among them. They removed the cuffs from the back and put them around the front.

A crowd had gathered, and as they were handcuffing me and walking me out to the car, I said, ‘Is this how you treat a black man in America?’

[Click to continue reading Skip Gates Speaks]

Of course there are elements in the US1 that support any and all actions by police officers, even when they are clearly in the wrong. I’m not linking to any of these, but on nearly every article I’ve read about the incident, there is a vocal and often surprisingly openly racist contingent who defend the police. These people frighten me with their deference to power, as the phrase goes, might doesn’t make right.

The Smoking Gun has the police report which obviously contradicts some of Professor Gates’ statements

  1. and the world – don’t know if the whole world is watching this incident, but having the President speak of it will certainly elevate it []

Freedom Rock Man

Keep Off Rock
posting this photo led to a Flickr pal leaving a YouTube link for the infamous Freedom Rock late-night television commercial (ran in the late 80s, has been a punch line for hipster jokes since then)


I assume there is a bittorrent for these songs; at the least, they are floating around in MP3 form. Kind of a funny list actually, Deep Purple and Jethro Tull don’t really mix well with Seals & Crofts or Dion, at least when I am manning the DJ controls. Also somewhat surprisingly, there is no Wikipedia entry for Freedom Rock, at least that I could find.

Because I’m waiting for a file to download and have some time to waste, I marked an asterisk next to the songs that currently exist in my iTunes library. I really need to burnish up my Freedom Rock credentials, don’t I?

Disc One:
*The Byrds – Turn, Turn, Turn
Ten Years After – I’d Love To Change The World
*Jethro Tull – Locomotive Breath
Joan Baez – The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
Edwin Starr – War
*Santana – Black Magic Woman
Harry Nilsson -Jump Into The Fire
*Deep Purple – Smoke On The Water
Brotherhood of Man – United We Stand
Coven – One Tin Soldier (The Legend Of Billy Jack )
*Jefferson Airplane – Somebody To Love
*Canned Heat – Going Up The Country
Friend and Lover – Reach Out Of The Darkness
*America – A Horse With No Name
*Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird
Allman Brothers Band – Ramblin’ Man
The Guess Who – Share The Land
Elton John – Friends
Ocean – Put Your Hand In The Hand
Three Dog Night – Black & White

Disc 2:
*Derek & The Dominos – Layla
Moody Blues – The Story In Your Eyes
Five Man Electrical Band – Signs
Jonathan Edwards – Sunshine
The O’Jays – Love Train
*Cream – White Room
*Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit
Judy Collins – Both Sides Now
Seals & Crofts – We May Never Pass This Way Again
Zager & Evans – In The Year 2525
*Alice Cooper – Eighteen
*Deep Purple – Hush
The Youngbloods – Get Together
Sonny & Cher – The Beat Goes On
Dion – Abraham, Martin & John
Melanie – Lay Down
*Spirit – I Got A Line On You
*James Taylor – Fire And Rain
Lobo – Me And You And A Dog Named Boo
*Otis Redding – (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay

and of these, probably the only song I wouldn’t skip past would be Locomotive Breath, and maybe The Byrds doing Bob Dylan’s, Turn Turn Turn. The rest are either horribly over-played, or just exist to be played in ironic context, i.e., not often.

Motivational Pulverization Realization from Leroy Smith

A little YouTubery humor from Charlie Murphy, last seen on the short-lived Chappelle Show.

Motivize! Pulverize! Realize! This is the unbelievable infomercial for Get Your Basketball On starring Leroy Smith, the man who motivated Michael Jordan.

“I’ll teach you the skills you need to dominate opponents the same way I dominated Mike…when we were in tenth grade.”


Military interrogator says torture cost Thousands of American lives

A 14-year military interrogator has undercut one of the key arguments posited by Vice President Dick Cheney in favor of the Bush Administration’s torture techniques and alleged that the use of torture has cost “hundreds if not thousands” of American lives.

The interrogator, who uses the name “Matthew Alexander,” says he oversaw more than 1,000 interrogations, conducting more than 300 in Iraq personally. His statements are captured in a new video by Brave New Films (excerpt).

“Torture does not save lives,” Alexander said in his interview. “And the reason why is that our enemies use it, number one, as a recruiting tool…These same foreign fighters who came to Iraq to fight because of torture and abuse….literally cost us hundreds if not thousands of American lives.”

Moreover, Alexander avers that many — as many as 90 percent — of those captured in Iraq said they joined the fight against the United States because of the torture conducted at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.

[Click to continue reading Raw Story » Former military interrogator says torture cost hundreds ‘if not thousands’ of American lives]

Wonder how widely this allegation was reported, especially in the broadcast journalism field. I suspect not widely at all – too many Republicans as executives in corporate media outlets.


Sonics Psycho

I have no idea of the context of this video, which mostly consists of a young woman in a plexiglass box writhing and go-go dancing to the Sonics song, Psycho. Dancers from 1965 crack me up, but The Sonics are great in any context.


“Here Are the Sonics” (The Sonics)

Artists Should Get Paid

I know I’ve linked to this Harlan Ellison rant before, but repetition is strength. Right?

And, finally, to artists of all genres – Harlan Ellison is a loud, irascible and vehement voice for respect and payment. He is the rare combination of a well-developed artistic mind combined with exquisite business smarts and an innate sense of unwavering justice. Ellison dares, in one of his rants, to speak out against a major film studio who wanted to re-release material involving him on DVD. When asked to be paid for his participation, the young assistant seemed shocked. A highly unfortunate reaction on her part – as she then became the target for a giant Harlan Ellison emotional whipping. Did she expect her gas station attendant to give her free gasoline? Her doctor to perform surgery for free…and did SHE, in fact work for free?

Artists are sick to death of trying to pay their bills off of jobs that “offer great exposure.” Harlan Ellison laments the fact that professional writers are constantly being undercut by amateurs these days… and he’s right. It might behoove all of us to listen to Harlan’s rants in DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH and re-inspire ourselves as a nation to “get what we pay for” and maybe bump up our standards a little.

[From SUNfiltered : Fresh culture daily. » Blog Archive » Harlan Ellison: Who is He and Why Should We Care?]

Anyway Mr. Ellison’s amusing rant re: the Warners Brothers release of a DVD of Babylon 5


Pay the artists!


Why is Harlan Ellison’s name on the end credits of THE TERMINATOR? Find out the truth in this video.


Funkadelic Cosmic Slop Video Promo

A weirdly wonderful film promo from Funkadelic, circa 1973, found on YouTube. Yes, I would hazard to guess there were a lot of drugs involved.


(via @joem500)

from the album of the same name.

“Cosmic Slop” (Funkadelic)

If memory serves, this was the first Parliament/Funkadelic album I bought – a gatefold LP from Westbound Records on heavy, archival vinyl. I even remember where I purchased it: a funky little record store next to Mad Dog and Beans and Les Amis on The Drag near the UT campus in Austin. Sadly, all three of these fine establishments, who have a cameo in the film, Slacker, are defunct, replaced by a Starbucks, a Subway, and a crushing sameness, so common to America in the 21st CE.

Flip HD footage of Haymarket

Because I feel as if I am underutilizing the potential fun of owning the Flip HD video camera, I am going to make a concerted effort to shoot more footage with the device. Viewer beware. My first attempt was pretty Cinéma vérité indie film bullshit – I need to drink less coffee perhaps, or invest in a tripod. I actually have a Flip HD tripod, but wasn’t able to use it because I was just leaning out of my window.


The footage was simply shot out of my office window. Less anarchists and police than in prior years – in fact, quite a lot less. Some years the street by the Haymarket Riot Memorial statue is blocked off, and a stage is erected. This year, the performers and speakers were shunted onto the sidewalk. I am pleased that nobody was run over by a car, as there was some portions of the crowd that lingered in the street.

Same video hosted on Flickr: wonder if there is any difference in the conversion codex?

The clip quickly thrown together in the current iMovie application, and audio provided by Wire1

Oh, used a handful of images taken also from my office window using my Nikon D80 with a 200 mm (digital) lens.

  1. Field Day for the Sundays – from Pink Flag []

Reading Around on May 1st through May 5th

A few interesting links collected May 1st through May 5th:

ThruYou mashup

I think I linked to this lovely YouTube mashup a few months ago. If you haven’t seen it, you are in for a treat.

This spring, the radical dissonance at the madhouse YouTube was — for a moment, at least — subdued. Did you feel it? The cacophonous video-sharing site was briefly brought to harmony in March by a composer, animator and musician known as Kutiman. Born Ophir Kutiel in Jerusalem in 1981, Kutiman created a minor masterpiece with an online project called ThruYOU that makes both sense and music of YouTube’s warring tendencies of compartmentalization and community.

ThruYOU is an album of seven original songs, each built from dozens of fragments of video clips of (mostly amateur) musicians, selected from among the seemingly endless footage of music lessons and private recitals archived on YouTube. (You can watch and listen on Thru-You.com, Kutiman’s cleverly custom-designed site.) Over what must have been a grueling two months, Kutiman collected an array of striking sounds and images, some no longer than a split second, and pressed them into musical service. Each one now furnishes a note or two, or a groove or a sensibility, in Kutiman’s audiovisual medleys. He has put the fractured universe of musical YouTube in concert. The housebound noodlers of the world now miraculously jam together.

But whatever its standing as ideological object, ThruYOU is also just stunning. Using and refining the technique of “video scratching,” ThruYOU builds fully orchestrated songs from Kutiman’s selected digital excerpts. Most of the clips show musicians in modest domestic spaces, improvised studios, barely finished basements and bunkerlike bedrooms. The videos almost always feature one musician in a soliloquy tableau that’s by now familiar to YouTubers: somewhat sheepishly, a soloist plays into a self-monitored camera and cheap microphone.

[Click to continue reading The Medium – World Music – NYTimes.com]

Here’s the first track: Mother of All Funk Chords


Though really, you should spend a few moments and watch all of the cuts from this “album” directly at Thru-You.com (the track selections are on the right of the screen). I shudder to think of how much time was spent compiling and cross-referencing these clips, but the results are just stupendous.

Michele Bachmann – The new Sarah Palin

Well, not necessarily new, Michele Bachmann1 been as wilfully ignorant as Sarah Palin for a while, but an apt comparison nonetheless.


“I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president Jimmy Carter,” said Bachmann. “And I’m not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.”

Here’s what I find interesting: Michele Bachmann is so partisan or so stupid (or both) that she thinks she’s actually being coy enough not to be called out on this insidious piece of shit.

Gerald Ford was president during the 1976 swine flu outbreak

[From Daily Kos: Your new Sarah Palin]

February 5, 1976, per Wikipedia.

On February 5, 1976, an army recruit at Fort Dix said he felt tired and weak. He died the next day and four of his fellow soldiers were later hospitalized. Two weeks after his death, health officials announced that swine flu was the cause of death and that this strain of flu appeared to be closely related to the strain involved in the 1918 flu pandemic. Alarmed public-health officials decided that action must be taken to head off another major pandemic, and they urged President Gerald Ford that every person in the U.S. be vaccinated for the disease

Ms. Bachmann also is a little confused about American history:


As a matter of fact, the recession that FDR had to deal with wasn’t as bad as the recession Coolidge had to deal with in the early 20s. Yet, the prescription that Coolidge put on that — from history — is lower taxes, lower regulatory burden, and we saw the “Roaring 20s,” where we saw markets and growth in the economy like we’d never seen before in the history of the country. FDR applied just the opposite formula. The Hoot-Smalley Act [sic], which was a tremendous burden on tariff restrictions. And then, of course, trade barriers, and the regulatory burden and tax barriers. That’s what we saw happen under FDR that took a recession and blew it into a full-scale depression. The American people suffered for almost ten years under that kind of thinking.

So here’s the media note on this dumbass: First off, recognize that she speaks in Palinesque gibberish. “A tremendous burden on tariff restrictions?” What?

Worse still, as TPM’s Eric Kleefield correctly points out, the Smoot-Hawley tariff bill — not “Hoot-Smalley” — was signed into law by Herbert Hoover (R), not FDR. The lead sponsors of the measure, Sen. Reed Smoot and Rep. Willis Hawley, were both… yes, you guessed it… Republicans.

Again, from Wikipedia, since you were probably curious too:

The act was pioneered by Senator Reed Smoot, a Republican from Utah, and Representative Willis C. Hawley, a Republican from Oregon. When running for president in 1928, one of Herbert Hoover’s many campaign promises to help beleaguered farmers had been to raise tariff levels on agricultural products. Hoover won, and Republicans obtained comfortable majorities in the House and in the Senate in 1928. Hoover then asked Congress for an increase in tariff rates on agricultural goods and a downward revision in rates on industrial goods.

The House passed a version of the act in May 1929, raising tariffs on agricultural and industrial goods alike. The Senate debated its bill until March 1930, with many Senators trading votes based on their states’ industries. The conference committee then aligned the two versions, largely by moving to the higher House tariffs

But hey, what’s a little ignorance? I’d hazard a guess that more than half of the current Senators and members of Congress would fail a college-level history test, miserably. Congresswoman Bachman is just one of those easily-ridiculed ignorant, smug, faux-Christians I thought we were done with once Bush’s thousand year rein crumbled.

  1. a proud Oral Roberts degree holder, ’nuff said []

Reading Around on March 30th

Some additional reading March 30th from 14:16 to 19:48:

  • jimmy's cocktail hour: Whiskey for the People. – "Pikesville Rye is widely distributed, and is usually available for around $11.99. Some parts of the country get it for $9.99. Let's call it $12. This is good rye at a bargain price. If you have a bottle of bitters on hand, you're all set. "
  • Cocktail Hacker » Blog Archive » MxMo XXXVI: Recession Gin and Tonic – So how hard is this cocktail going to hit your wallet? It’s not going to hit it hard at all. It’s going to be like a kitten falling on a pile of pillows.

    Burnett’s Gin (1.75 L) $15.99 -> 2 oz $0.54
    Realime (15 oz) $3.09 -> 1 tsp $0.04
    C-Dry Tonic (6×12 oz) $2.99 -> 6 oz $0.25
    Total Cost Per Drink $0.83
    Eighty three cents. Try to wrap your head around that number. That’s cheaper than a soft drink nearly anywhere. It’s cheaper than a crappy cup of coffee from the vending machine in my office.

  • The Cocktail Chronicles » MxMo Hard Times: Drink Like a King(sley) – Need to read this book!
    "Vital requirement: prepare pre- and post-dinner drinks in some undiscoverable pantry or broom-cupboard well away from the main scene. This will not only screen your niggardliness; it will also make the fetching of each successive round look like a slight burden, and will cast an unfavorable limelight on any individual determined to wrest additional drinks out of you. Sit in a specially deep easy-chair, and practise getting out of it with a mild effort and, later in the evening, a just-audible groan, though beware of overdoing this."
  • Twitter Blog: Replies Are Now Mentions – Seems like this should pick up on re-tweets too (RT @swanksalot for instance). Good tweak to the API.
  • The Art of Sampling | TheFrontloader.com – "Sometime late last year, I was looking through the new releases when I came across a sincere tragedy. Hilary Duff was back, and THIS time, it was personal… “Personal Jesus”-personal. It seemed that, for her “Best Of” album, she needed a new song and thus decided to sample Depeche Mode’s 1989 hit “Personal Jesus” for her single, “Reach Out.”

    At first I couldn’t believe it because I consider Depeche Mode music sacred ground, but then I found a link to the music video and decided to see if it was true. For those of you that have been lucky enough to miss this, consider yourself very unlucky right now"

  • The Washington Monthly -IF IT'S SUNDAY, IT'S JOHN MCCAIN – John McCain has appeared on Meet the Press – just one of the multiple Sunday morning talk shows – 54 times, and I would guess that most of them have come in the years since announcing for President in 1999, since before that he was a more obscure figure in Washington. I can't imagine there's anyone else even close to that number. And yet McCain is an easy guy to find on the Rolodex and get to appear on your show. It points to a staleness in the official discourse.